The United States Hockey League announced today that the Chicago Steel were named 2018 USHL Media Team of the Year, as voted upon by media members of the USHL. 2017-18 marks the third season the award has been presented.
The USHL Media Team of the Year award is awarded annually to the team that best displays professionalism, hospitality and the core media values of the USHL.
“On behalf of the Steel, we are thrilled to accept this award and we thank our peers for this honor,” said Chicago Steel President Dan Lehv. “This award is the result of the hard work and passion of many in our organization, but most notably Rob Sanderson, our Broadcaster and Media Relations Coordinator, who heads these efforts."
Sanderson serves as “Voice of the Steel” and has broadcast nearly 200 games for the team since joining the organization prior to the 2015-2016 season. Sanderson leads Chicago’s media relations and social media efforts and assists with graphic design, video content and promotions.
Over the last three seasons, the Steel have experienced strong growth on its social media platforms including a 251% increase of likes and impressions on Facebook dating back to Aug. 2015, a 98% increase in followers and impressions on Twitter dating back to Aug. 2015 and a 131% increase in followers and impressions on Instagram dating back to Apr. 2016.
The Steel made national news this March when it offered Chicago Blackhawks emergency goalie Scott Foster the opportunity to be its “emergency accountant.” The press release was picked up by numerous media outlets including NBC Sports and NHL.com. The team is consistently working to stake out its place in the crowded Chicago media landscape, earning television coverage for promotions like its Teddy Bear Toss and Wiener Dog Races, as well as print coverage in the Chicago Tribune and Daily Herald, among others. The Steel are awaiting the airing of a segment profiling two high school players and their housing families on NBC Sports Chicago.
Building upon its brand of fast-paced family fun, the Steel have delivered strong and consistent messages and images to promote its players, games, promotions and more, and have effectively incorporated the team’s #WeAreSteel and postseason #SteelTheCup and #SteelItAgain hashtags. Chicago has also continued to highlight the collegiate and professional accomplishments of its former players including player interviews and photographs of alumni.
“We’re proud of our many media accomplishments, and we'd also like to recognize our partners at Agency 360, Distinctive Reelz (video production), graphic designer Curt Schultz, and the game night media, production staff members and photographers that help us engage our audience on multiple platforms,” said Lehv.
In 2017-18, the Steel upgraded their e-newsletter, increasing subscribers and open rates, and improving the look and feel of the weekly publication. The team also developed a bi-weekly newsletter specifically for its corporate partners which increased sponsor engagement. This came on the heels of a website update prior to the 2016-17 season which was led by Sanderson.
In addition to his Steel responsibilities which included calling the first Clark Cup Championship in team history, Sanderson has represented the USHL at the 2016 Clark Cup Final, 2016 NHL Draft and 2017 NHL Draft, where he served as an on-camera host for USHLTV.
Previous winners of the USHL Media Team of the Year include the Lincoln Stars (2016) and Omaha Lancers (2015).
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 16th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2017-18. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in five consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.